Andrea Cohen

Music Class | Hymnals and Revivals
May 25, 2017 Cohen Andrea

Music Class


Kids learned to play
recorder in fourth grade,
but I arrived late that year,
and Mr. Bradley, fatigued
and harried, taught me
to fake it: how to inflate
my cheeks and make
fingers navigate in the Baroque
way favored for pastoral
scenes, for amorous and other
miraculous events. At frigid
Christmas concerts, I
was convincing, shivering
on bleachers, shamming
Ave Maria. Who the hell
plays a wooden flute these
days? But mastering
silence––no one forgets.




Hymnals and Revivals


Friday nights we meet
in church basements.
We drink coffee and jaw
on what went wrong.
There’s Orpheus, who’s
pawned his lyre, and Lot’s
wife, licking the salt
wound she is. We call
her Edie. Everyone goes
by one name: Hugh, who,
eyeing the rear-view veered
into a crowd; Angus, who
turned in his lifeguard’s
chair and missed a girl
going under. Edie regrets
not being born a horse
with blinders. Orpheus says
he wishes Eurydice never
loved him, but he doesn’t
mean it. Above us,
hymnals and revivals,
believers heaven-bent.
Look, if I could go
back, I’d be gone.

Andrea Cohen is the author of eight poetry collections, including Everything, Nightshade, and The Sorrow Apartments (forthcoming). She directs the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, MA.